13 June 2007

1 in 5 Workers Work Excessive Hours

A new study by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) recently estimates that one in five workers throughout the world are working more than 48 hours per week. The study, which covers working trends in fifty countries, says that an estimated 22 percent of the global workforce (614.2 million workers) are working excessively long hours. Long working hours is defined as working more than 48 hours a week, which is an international standard of working time set by ILO almost a century ago.

The findings are said to be worrying, however, some progress has been made in the developing and transition countries to regulate the normal working hours. The distribution of working time in those countries is uneven where some individuals work very long hours while others work short hours. A considerable number of workers who are working short hours are may be underemployed and are likely to fall into poverty. Short working hours is defined as less than thirty five hours per week.

Peru topped the list of the countries with the highest record of long working hours for 2004-2005 with 50.9 percent of its workers working more than 48 hours a week. This is followed by Republic of Korea at 49.5 percent, Thailand at 46.7 percent and Pakistan at 44.4 percent. Among rich nations, the United Kingdom stands at the top with 25.7 percent.

Among other interesting findings are men tend to work longer hours compared to women. This is  likely due to women's 'unpaid' work to manage household and to provide care for family members. For married couples with children, men's working hours tend to increase while women's working hours decrease.

According to the report,shorter working hours benefit workers' health and family lives, reduce accidents at workplace and make workers more productive.

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